The Fortieth Birthday Body

Valerie Wolzien, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (266p) ISBN 978-0-312-02917-3
Susan Henshaw, the affable but somewhat inept housewife introduced in Wolzien's first novel, Murder at the PTA Luncheon , returns in this mild, low-key mystery set in affluent Hancock, Conn. Also reappearing is Henshaw's good friend Kathleen Gordon, a shrewd, unflappable former state police detective who calls on all her wiles and experience to work with the antagonistic local police in solving the murder of Dawn Elliot, a former resident of Hancock whose body, shot through the head, turns up in Susan's birthday present--a new car--at her 40th birthday party. Most of the male guests present quickly become suspects, since many, including Susan's seemingly agreeable husband Jed, reluctantly admit to having had affairs with promiscuous, enigmatic Dawn. Kathleen penetrates the town's seething gossip network to ferret out motives, but it is Susan's precocious 10-year-old son Chad, a sports-car buff, who inadvertently provides a vital clue. A townful of listless characters and a thin, drawn-out story line stall this pallid mystery. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 240 pages - 978-0-449-14685-9
Hardcover - 978-0-517-08392-5
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